You Don't Mess With The Chabon


You Don't Mess With the Zohan is the worst movie I've ever seen, though it was better than Munich.

Okay, I liked it. So what? Who doesn't like a hummus joke? Or 37 hummus jokes? It turns out that Michael Chabon also thought it was the worst movie he's ever seen, and he enjoyed it very much as well. Since we were e-mailing about it anyway, I thought I would send him a series of questions. Here are his answers:

Jeffrey Goldberg: Do you like hummus?

Michael Chabon: I would say that, in fact, I relish hummus.

JG: Isn't hummus really delicious?

MC: Yes, but what I like most about it is that, for all its deliciousness, it has managed to stay humble.

JG: Was Zohan the worst movie you've ever seen?

MC: Certainly in the last two weeks. No, wait, I forgot about Get Smart.

JG: Do you think that Zohan is a 21st century Ari Ben-Canaan? Do people in the 21st century know who Ari Ben-Canaan is?

MC: What a depressing thought. Is there anybody else who feels that it might be best if we just started the 21st century over again? No question that, in retrospect, Zohan suffered from a distinct lack of Eva-Marie Saint.

JG: Are Jews in Hollywood more comfortable now with their Jewishness than they were 30 years ago?

MC: Are there Jews in Hollywood?

JG: And if yes, is this necessarily a good thing?

MC: I am sitting here trying to think of recent Hollywood films that might be seen to reflect their Jewish creators' increased comfort with their Jewishness. What I see is an increased degree of comfort with Jewishiness. That's probably not a bad thing.

I mean, hummus toothpaste, that had me laughing. My wife (born in Israel), and me. Nobody else in the theater (Emeryville, matinee) was really laughing about the hummus toothpaste.

JG: Do you know any Israelis who are obsessed with hacky sack? Because I don't.

MC: You mean apart from Tzabar Regel, gold medalist in hacky sack at the 2005 Maccabiah?

JG: Was Zohan a Zionist movie, or a post-Zionist movie, and, does it really matter?

MC: To the degree that it appears to suggest that Jews and Arabs can never live in peace anywhere but in a mythical neighborhood of downtown New York City, I guess I would definitely be inclined to classify it as "post-Something."

JG: What do you think of tehina in your hummus?

MC: I welcome its presence, as a grace note.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

His book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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